Don’t Knock Twice: All Bark, Not Bite for Cliched Horror
Javier BotetKatee Sackhoff...
Caradog W. James
In 1 Cinema
The basic premise of new supernatural horror flick, Don’t Knock Twice – you know the one about mystical urban legends, deadly ghosts and eventual demonic possession takeover – is all a little too familiar to ignite any genuine excitement. Boasting a been-there-done-that story structure and a tired approach throughout, there are parts of the film that are not entirely wasted. However, the story fails to find its way around all of the missteps and clichés, ultimately becoming another failed attempt of murky shadows and flaky scares.
The story begins with Jess (Sackhoff); a sculptor and ex-addict who has been working hard to rebuild her life as well as her relationship with her estranged daughter, Chloe (Boynton), whom she gave up for adoption nine years before. However, finding common ground with the troubled teenager is easier said and done, with Chloe showing no signs of interest in rekindling their mother-daughter bond. Things soon take a turn for the weird when Chloe comes to contact with an urban legend, the supposed murderess, Mary Aminov (Botet), who comes calling for her victims when visitors knock twice.
When her boyfriend Danny (Bolger) falls victim to the creepy supernatural force, Chloe decides to seek shelter with Jess and her new husband Ben (Mylan) at their home, hoping that this will keep her safe and away from the grasp of the demon. While both mother and daughter try to settle their own personal differences and heal old wounds, Mary’s spirit soon finds her way into the house. Penetrating Chloe’s mind and bombarding it with horrifying nightmares and hallucinations, they soon seek help from Detective Boardman (Moran) who offers his protection. However, Jess soon realises that it is up to her to dissect the myth around Mary if she is ever to save her daughter from hell.
Directed by The Machine’s Caradog W. James, Don’t Knock Twice tells two stories at the same time; the first one focusing on the troubled relationship between a mother and daughter and the other on a mystical demon that enters their lives, with its presence ultimately serving to be the motive for reconciliation. It’s a relatively affective approach, but James builds a world of cheap scares – creaky doors, shadowy figures crawling on the ground, strange bumps in the night – suffocating the picture with convenience rather than originality.
Dim lightening and a stubbornly solemn atmosphere is present throughout the minutes, though the unnerving electronic musical score is not entirely as effective, providing the movie with a distraction that’s hard to shake off. The performances are not completely hopeless, as both Boynton and Sackhoff are strong and committed to their roles, but thanks to a lazy script, they’re never really given a chance to shine, let alone save the movie from the inevitable breakdown.